Author Archives: Anthony Johnston

Backpacking Preparation

Informant Info:  The informant is an 18-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri. She is currently a freshman studying Public Policy at USC.

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: As a hiker/backpacker, do you have any little traditions, rituals, or lucky charms that help ensure you have a safe and successful trip?

Interviewee: Well, before any hike, and also… any test, presentation, or project… I uhh, always – always – ALWAYS – have a very very specific omelet. I make it with 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon of milk, 2 strips of crumbled bacon, half of a pepper, a little spinach, and about a third of a cup of cheese.

Interviewer: Wow, that is specific… like why?

Interviewee: Well, some people have lucky charms but I have my lucky meal. It eases my mind, and it fuels me up. I can focus on making the perfect omelet that it prevents me from stressing out about what’s to come… and I also feel good after, so why not.

Interviewer: Makes sense, have you ever gone without it. If so, how did you feel?

Interviewee: I have. I wasn’t a fan. Something just felt missing. I know it’s stupid but I did noticeable worse on a test once. I knew the material, I studied for weeks… I just blanked. I doubt it would’ve happened had I eaten!

 

Analysis:

As with other lucky charms or rituals within these collections, a common trend seems to be mindset. The informant sort of mentions it herself by stating that the omelet itself isn’t lucky, but it instead helps her clear her mind. In a way, the omelet only serves as a placebo effect for her. This similar case can likely be argued for many lucky items. Nonetheless, it is interesting that she has such a belief and must make an omelet, of all things, so specifically (and ritually) before any major event.

Bonding through Media

Informant Info: The informant is a 21-year-old male who was born and raised in Chanhassen, Minnesota. His parents both moved to America from India when they were in their twenties. He is currently a student at USC studying Electrical Engineering.

 

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: Do you have any little family traditions among your family?

 

Interviewee: Every time I come back to Minnesota. I always watch the same episode of Top Gear with my brother. The same, single episode. It’s called the Vietnam special, in case you want to know. We’ve done it since I left for college, every time I come back. It’s such a stupid episode, but it’s just something we do together and I can’t stop it now.

 

Analysis:

This tradition is yet another tradition where the sole purpose is to help the family, or in this case brothers, bond. I wasn’t able to gather any context as to how the tradition started or if there was significance behind the tradition, other than the fact that the brother just really likes Top Gear.

 

Ancestral Visits

Informant Info: The informant is a 21-year-old male who was born and raised in Chanhassen, Minnesota. His parents both moved to America from India when they were in their twenties. He is currently a student at USC studying Electrical Engineering.

 

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: Do your parents, being first generation immigrants, have any traditions or rituals that they’ve passed down to you?

 

Interviewee: Every time we go to India, we take the train down to my mother’s ancestral village, like where her parents and grandparents grew up. It’s really old and small… only like 20 or 30 people live there I think…so it’s really tiny. And everyone is old, I think the average age is like 80ish, not to be rude.  But it is really, really important to my mom, so we go every time.

 

Analysis:

This story represents the significance of ancestral history. Despite leaving India and coming to America, his mother’s ancestral home is still very important her. It is where she grew up with her parents, spent her childhood, and was taught all of the values and traditions that she still carries with her today. For her, she goes to pay her respects to her ancestors and her hometown, and by doing so, the informant is also learning about its importance.

Easter Eggs with Satire

Informant Info: The informant is an 18-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri. She is currently a freshman studying Public Policy at USC.

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: With Easter just passing, did you or your family celebrate it? If so, how?

 

Interviewee: Sooooo…. We are not religious, but we still celebrate Easter. What we do is we dye Easter eggs AND then the Easter bunny would hide them in our yard on Saturday. On Easter, we would wake up and have the good ol’ traditional Easter egg hunt. And since we weren’t religious, my parents would sorta make jokes out of it. My mom grew up Catholic, so sometimes she would we toss in prank items, like Jesus band aids. We would then dinner 2pm, which I always thought was early, but hey… home cooked food!

 

Analysis:

Despite not being religious, the informant’s family still celebrates a typical American Easter, primarily in terms of the Easter Eggs. Across the globe, eggs are extremely important symbols of spring, regrowth, and birth. Once again, family bonding still appears to be the most important factor.

The Language of Ubbi Dubbi

Informant Info: The informant is an 18-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri. She is currently a freshman studying Public Policy at USC.

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: From all of our previous interactions, I know you have a habit of a funky little language. Can you tell me more about it?

 

Interviewee: The language is called ubbi dubbi, and it originated on a show called Zoom, which is a PBS kids show. All you need to do is put ub in front of every vowel when speaking. We started speaking it in middle school and then in high school everyone seemed to be super into it. It got bad enough that at a certain point that teachers had to put “No phones, no calculators, and no ubbi dubbi” on tests because kids would cheat through it. But yeah, I still like to make memes with it or I’ll just randomly speak it for fun to throw people off.

 

Analysis:

You must love the good old forms of variation and multiplicity. This collection is an example of how popular media can influence folklore, particularly through kids. The language was a silly piece of a kids show, yet the humorous sounds inspired the informant to make a hobby out of speaking it.  I’ll give her credit… it’s harder than it seems to speak it successfully. But, nonetheless, it shows popular media being taken and morphed into an actual language.